I feel like such a fool. “I hope there’s some way I can help.” How pathetic.
I’ve made a nest for myself in these furs, and I’ve cried all the tears that are in me, and now I’m going to write all of this down, though I don’t know what the point is. Maybe it’s so I can look back later and remind myself not to be a fool again. I don’t even care if the God-Empress learns that someone’s been in her treasure rooms. Not that she’d know it was me. Aselfos can’t be that good, or he’d have caught me already.
We found out what was wrong with Terrael. And the secret of the Codex Tiurindi. But I’m going to write it all down as it happened, leaving nothing out, and these are the sort of conversations I wish I could forget. What Terrael said—I know I’m going to make mistakes, and there are gaps, and I’ve made it seem that my memory is perfect and I know that’s not honest, and right now I don’t give a damn about honest because when everything is falling apart, fiction is more comforting than fact. But I’m doing my best.
I spent the morning practicing pouvrin until I had a bit of a headache, then I took over a scrap of wall and began doodling, nothing real, just experimenting to see if I could reproduce the shapes of pouvrin. It wasn’t successful, but it gave me some ideas for other things I might try. I have no idea what the point would be, now, and I can’t believe how hopeful I was at the time. I’m such a fool.
All the mages were there except Audryn and Terrael, and I think everyone was doing variations on what I was doing—sketching kathana plans, or practicing th’an. Cederic and Vorantor were at the circle, talking quietly about something on the board Cederic held. I remember thinking how friendly they looked, and how that showed how impossible it was to tell anything just by looking.
I wish—remembering them standing together, I wish I could have warned Cederic somehow…but what would I say? I’ve already shown what a failure I am at saying the right thing—damn it, now I’m crying again. Enough. This is me writing it down, no more self-pity.
So. Audryn and Terrael finally arrived. Terrael still looked awful, but now Audryn did too. I started to approach them, but Terrael said something to Audryn, who shook her head and clutched at his sleeve to make him stop. He pulled away from her and went straight to where Cederic and Vorantor were, and said something to Cederic in a low voice.
Vorantor said, “I see no reason why you can’t tell all of us what you’ve learned, Master Peressten. Unless you think no one but the Kilios deserves to know.”
Terrael looked devastated. Cederic said, “Go ahead, Master Peressten, Sai Vorantor is correct.”
Audryn seemed ready to begin crying, and I went quickly to her, but when I asked what was wrong, she shook her head again and covered her mouth with her sleeve. Terrael’s shoulders slumped, and he took the Codex out of his trouser pocket and opened it.
“I’ve translated enough to know that it has the information we—the information about the coming disaster,” he said, loudly enough that everyone could hear him. “It has most of the kathana the mages used when they created the first disaster. We can use it to…to…” He stopped, swallowed, and turned back a few pages.
“Veris wasn’t a mage. She was responsible for chronicling the acts of the mages, back then, which means the Codex isn’t as useful as a record by an actual mage would be in terms of giving us a complete kathana we could use. But because she’s an outsider, she sees their magic—what existed before the disaster—the way we might, and in that sense the book is more useful—”
“Please skip to the important part, Master Peressten,” Vorantor said in that indulgent way he has when he’s talking to the Darssan mages, like they’re clever children, though some of them are older than he is.
“This is important!” Terrael shouted, startling everyone; he looks so harmless, so innocent, and it breaks my heart to think of how much all this hurt him. “Veris, and then Barklan, didn’t understand much of what they described about magic. What they describe was something of a combination of our magic and Sesskia’s—th’an expressed not through writing, but through the power of will. That’s a part I don’t understand yet.
“But the experiment that went wrong was intended to make magic more accessible, make it easier to learn and to use. They wanted to remove some of the…the inherent requirements of the magic. Barklan talks about it as if the magic were alive and could make demands, and that may or may not be true, but it’s what those mages were counting on.”
“So they tried to remove the magic, and separated their world instead,” Cederic said.
“Maybe,” said Terrael. “There wasn’t anyone left to record what actually happened, and the Codex was destroyed in the disaster, so the last record is simply a note that they were ready to try the kathana, though they call it something else. It’s the…the earlier records, the experiments, that tell what must have gone wrong.”
He turned more pages. “They practiced—I don’t know how they isolated magic, but they did, and they practiced removing the parts they didn’t want. And it worked, for short periods of time. They would…they would separate the magic into identical pieces, exactly the same except that one had the magic they wanted and the other didn’t. Just like how we summoned the Codex. But they could only keep them separated for seconds before they drew back together. Irresistible attraction. Because the magic calls to itself.”
“I fail to see the point, Master Peressten,” Vorantor said, exactly as if Terrael hadn’t snapped at him before.
“I’m coming to it,” Terrael said, though he sounded as if the words were being dragged out of him. “So with the final kathana, the one that caused the disaster, the plan was to suppress the magic long enough to take out what they wanted and recreate it in their image. Because if there was no magic, the pieces stayed separated. And if there was magic, nothing…nothing could keep the pieces from recombining.”
By this time he was talking directly to Cederic, as if no one else were in the room, and I could tell Cederic was as mystified as the rest of us, but he nodded encouragement. That probably made Terrael feel worse.
“The rest is somewhat conjecture, but I swear to you, Sai Aleynten, I’ve gone over this a hundred times and I know it’s true,” Terrael said. “The kathana was too powerful, and it tore the world in half, two almost identical pieces with key differences and all the magic gone, or at least spread so thin it couldn’t be used for anything. And they stayed apart for hundreds of years while the magic gathered itself and people learned to use it again, until there was enough of it to reverse the process.
“Every th’an, every kathana, even Sesskia’s pouvrin bring the worlds closer together. And there’s no way to stop it. They aren’t meant to be apart. Sai Aleynten, I’m sorry, but there’s no way to keep them apart. It’s impossible.”
to be continued…